Luck and Leadership

Luck and Leadership

Isn’t it interesting how certain achievements in life are often ascribed to luck?  For instance, we hear things like, “He’s fortunate he received that great promotion” or “What an awesome bonus—she’s so lucky she got one.”  This arbitrary luck-factor isn’t just reserved for professional accomplishments.  People admire others for their great marriage, good kids, nice home, numerous friends, etc.—but once again, they often ascribe those blessings to some windfall that just “happened” by chance.   

Actually, favorable circumstances can play a part in some of what we achieve in life—but that’s not the fundamental factor for success.  According to Lucius Annaeus Seneca (also known as Seneca the Younger), advanced planning is necessary to be ready for future prospects.  In the famous quote attributed to him, this ancient Roman statesman and  philosopher explained luck this way: 

“Luck is a matter of preparation meeting opportunity.” 

By analyzing Seneca’s life, one can understand how this well-educated man from a well-connected family experienced this philosophy firsthand. After being exiled by one emperor, his expertise was needed to mentor another.  So, back to Rome he went to usher in the next Caesar. Seneca’s preparation had paid off.  

While most of us won’t have to walk the razor’s edge of life and death leadership like Seneca did, all 21st century leaders can learn valuable lessons from this 1st century philosopher.  Being prepared, both personally and professionally, will allow you to not only achieve but also succeed when opportunities arise. In fact, the team at LEADon® believes there are six specific components that should be part of your preparatory process.  Here’s how we break down what we refer to as Hall of Fame LEADership: 

  1. Technical Skills: receiving the proper training (trade school, professional school, college, graduate school, etc.), credentials, and skill sets needed to meet the goals and objectives of your business plan.  
  2. Leadership: providing those in your spheres of influence with the motivation, guidance, and support needed to reach common goals. 
  3. Culture:  creating an environment where identified values, beliefs, and behavior patterns support daily interactions and the objectives of the business plan. 
  4. Competence: merging technical knowledge and EQ skills to provide positive, sustainable results. In other words, combining IQ and EQ so that your Corporate Family’s® business objectives are fulfilled and maintained.  
  5. Commitment: consistently supporting and motivating your team and its objectives through reliable action and effort.  
  6. EQ: mastering, modeling, and mentoring the personal and social skills that comprise Emotional Quotient. 

We explain each of these six components of Hall of Fame LEADership in more detail in Chapter 2 of The LEADing Edge:  9 Strategies for Improving Internal and Intentional Leadership (Wilke & Wilke, 2019). We also have an online course devoted to this critical leadership topic, and you can access LEADing with Hall of Fame LEADership® at  But before you investigate these resources, spend a few minutes thinking through the following questions that will help you identify which of the six Hall of Fame LEADership skill sets may need more attention in the days ahead: 

  1. Technical Skills:  Does every member on my team have the necessary skills to fulfill their roles and responsibilities?  What am I doing do ensure technical skills are keeping up with advances in our industry? 
  2. Leadership: How am I investing in the development of current leaders? Am I building “bench strength” for the leadership that we’ll need in the future? 
  3. Culture:  Can everyone on my leadership team define our Corporate Family culture? Do all team members exhibit the values, beliefs, and behavior patterns that represent our culture?  
  4. Competence:  How do customers feel about my team members’ level of competence?  What about competitors? Are they threatened by such competence, or thrilled by the lack thereof? 
  5. Commitment: How devoted are members of the leadership team to our Corporate Family and its business goals? Do we cascade the value of commitment throughout our organization? 
  6. EQ:  Do I and other leaders understand the importance of Emotional Quotient in our personal and professional lives? What can be done to improve our personal and social competence? How can we help all team members identify EQ strengths and improve any areas of weakness? 

As you consider these questions, take a moment to reflect on an additional insight from that sage philosopher from ages past:  “No man was ever wise by chance.” While Seneca understood that luck and leadership can sometimes be intrinsically linked, he was wise enough not to leave certain matters to chance. The bottom line?  Intentional effort paves the way for prudent personal and professional decision-making.  

The team at LEADon® has spent decades helping leaders hone the skills necessary to face today’s challenges and prepare for tomorrow’s opportunities.  If we can be of assistance to you and your team, please contact us at 858.592.0700 or